David Bowie - "The Next Day": "The Next Day" has a lot of the same David Bowie elements from his classic work: arrangements from the cosmos, angular guitar work that seems to arrive out of nowhere and never overstay its welcome, and through it all, his words that always make the listener feel like they are part of something bigger, more universal. But beyond all that, there is just an old man with a now shredded voice ... trying to give us something to hold onto for just one time. - Jeffrey Thiessen
Devendra Banhart - "Mala: "Mala" is the kind of album where there are some very good individual songs, though you get the feeling they might have been better served on a compilation record or soundtrack, buffered by filler and failed experiments. If there's one thing "Mala" doesn't do, it's cohere. "Mala" proves that Banhart is searching for his mojo, the thing that made him so endearing to critics and fans in the first place. I can tell you this much: simply recording on a pawnshop recorder is not enough, and is not going to bring the magic back. You have to have the songs, of which "Mala" only has a handful. - Zachary Houle
Biffy Clyro - "Opposites": Double albums - in the majority of cases - are a risky affair usually resigned to prog-rock magicians. When bands under the mainstream spotlight attempt such a move, it tends to result in a record full of filler with a spineless producer afraid to deflate a few egos by telling the pretentious musicians to reel it. This is not strictly the case here, as Biffy Clyro have managed to avoid most of the pitfalls of such bloated expanse, even though "Opposites'" running time is lengthy. Fans will dive headlong into these 20 new songs, but that's not to say that this record isn't without its flaws. - Dean Brown
Stereophonics - "Graffiti on the Train": Stereophonics has never been a smiles and sunshine kind of band, but neither has their material been as thoroughly dark as that found on "Graffiti on the Train." Themes of separation, last chances, regret, nostalgia and fleeting impermanence define this record. It should be noted that this is Stereophonics' first album since the 2010 death of founding drummer Stuart Cable, and it's tempting to ascribe the melancholia that pervades the work to his passing. As the bitterest of silver linings, however, Cable's death seems to have reinvigorated the band's artistry, with frontman Kelly Jones writing his best songs since 2005's "Language. Sex. Violence. Other?" - Cole Waterman
Other notable releases this week:
Eric Clapton - "Old Sock"
Girls Names - "The New Life"
The Infamous Stringdusters - "Silver Sky" (Deluxe Edition)
Shooter Jennings - "The Other Life"
Bon Jovi - "What About Now"
The Mary Onettes - "Hit the Waves"
Laura Mvula - "Sing to the Moon"
Wild Belle - "Isles"
NOW HEAR THIS
John Parish - "LSB/End Titles" (stream)
John Parish's upcoming album "Screenplay," which compiles some of his soundtrack work, seems like a natural project for the accomplished multi-instrumentalist producer, especially to those who appreciate the vivid, visual quality of his collaborations with PJ Harvey. Originally appearing in the Dutch film "Little Black Spiders," "LBS/End Titles" is an atmospheric piece that works just as well accompanying a film as it does a daydream in your head. With steadily building synths interlaced with deliberate guitar patterns and touches of glockenspiel, it's mood music that's equally well suited for paying close attention to or having on in the background. John Parish's "Screenplay" will be released on April 16, via Thrill Jockey.
Beach House - "Wishes" (video)
Beach House have released their latest video from 2012's stunner, "Bloom." For "Wishes," the group teamed up with director Eric Wareheim to produce a video starring Ray Wise ("Twin Peaks," "Reaper"). Wareheim says of the video, "Beach House, Ray Wise, fireworks, and horses. How can I go wrong? This is the first project that I've ever collaborated creatively with the band. Victoria's imagery inspired me to create this special half time show. It also helps that Beach House is literally on my top five list of bands, ever."
Junkie XL - "Leave Behind Your Ego" featuring Timothy Leary (video)
Dutch techno musician Junkie XL, known as Tom Holkenborg in real life, released his latest album, "Synthesized," late last year and has now offered his third single from the record. "Leave Behind Your Ego" feat. Timothy Leary is a classic big beat, techno tune with spoken word vocals from '60s icon Timothy Leary. The stunning video was directed by John Christopher Pina (Kanye West, John Legend, Seal, Common) and features striking images that change and flow in perfect time to the music. Pina says the video is "carefully constructed sound meets meticulously chosen imagery in illuminating the haunting words of Leary through a transmigration from the walls and pathways of ever-present modern technology, down through the mirror of chaos in man-made structures, and through to the abstract serenity of nature."
Neon Neon - "Mid Century Modern Nightmare" (stream)
Neon Neon is the duo of pop master Gruff Rhys from the Super Furry Animals and Boom Bip, the acclaimed US hip-hopper and producer. Together they meld delicious pop melodies with kinetic beats and swaths of synths, rather like a quirkier version of OMD. 'Praxis Makes Perfect' is the pair's upcoming release coming out April 29. It's described by Neon Neon as, "a conceptual power pop tour de force inspired by the colourful life of maverick Italian publisher Giagiacomo Feltrinelli."
Emeli Sandé - "Next to Me" (Kendrick Lamar Remix) (video)
OK, this is a hot one. Critically acclaimed young rapper Kendrick Lamar remixes Emeli Sandé's "Next to Me," which was one of 2012's most addictive songs. Lamar's verse introduces the tune and Brit Award winner Sandé takes it from there.
She & Him - "Never Wanted Your Love" (stream)
She & Him's latest longplayer, "Volume 3," will emerge via Merge on May 7, and right after that the duo will commence a month-long tour. Today they present us with the first song, "Never Wanted Your Love," from the new record.
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